Microarthropod Communities in the New Jersey Pinelands

Title:  Microarthropod Communities in the New Jersey Pinelands (2012)

Author: Melanie Rose Maghirang, Rutgers University. Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at Camden

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Abstract: The soil dwelling microarthropod communities in the New Jersey Pinelands were examined in two field study experiments. The microarthropod community response to low intensity prescribed burns was first examined in two recently burned forests and two unburned forests. The populations of phytophagous and saprophagous mites responded most negatively to low intensity fire disturbance. Although other feeding guilds examined such as: predatory mites, fungivorous mites and collembolans appear to be quite tolerant to fire-disturbance. There were minimal differences in the populations of fungivorous mites between treatments, with greater populations in the unburned experimental sites. A closer examination of fungivorous mite abundances revealed that parthenogenic mites in this guild contributed significantly to its total population, thus allowing this guild to thrive post-disturbance. The diurnal migrations of these soil dwelling communities were also examined in two field studies conducted in July and November to determine possible seasonal changes. Environmental measurements were taken along with soil sampling to determine which factors influenced microarthropod densities. There were no significant differences by time for the total populations of microarthropods in both the July and November studies. Minimal differences in populations of all feeding guilds by time and time X depth in the July study were detected.  Significant differences by depth were observed in all feeding guilds except phytophagous mites, which were sparsely collected beyond the 0-5 cm depths.  The studies revealed some seasonal changes particularly with mites of the family Eulohmannoidea. In addition, this study found that temperature, moisture content and organic matter (LOI) influenced microarthropod densities.